Her vacant look, her lifeless posture, appalled him; it was as one who gazed on the Medusa’s head, and felt, without a struggle, the human being gradually harden to the statue. It was not frenzy, it was not idiocy,—it was an abstraction, an apathy, a sleep in waking. Only as the night advanced towards the eleventh hour—the hour in which Glyndon had concluded his tale—she grew visibly uneasy, anxious, and perturbed. Then her lips muttered; her hands writhed; she looked round with a look of unspeakable appeal for succour, for protection, and suddenly, as the clock struck, fell with a shriek to the ground, cold and lifeless. With difficulty, and not until after the most earnest prayers, did she answer the agonised questions of Glyndon; at last she owned that at that hour, and that hour alone, wherever she was placed, however occupied, she distinctly beheld the apparition of an old hag, who, after thrice knocking at the door, entered the room, and hobbling up to her with a countenance distorted by hideous rage and menace, laid its icy fingers on her forehead: from that moment she declared that sense forsook her; and when she woke again, it was only to wait, in suspense that froze up her blood, the repetition of the ghastly visitation.
The physician who had been summoned before Glyndon’s return, and whose letter had recalled him to London, was a commonplace practitioner, ignorant of the case, and honestly anxious that one more experienced should be employed. Clarence called in one of the most eminent of the faculty, and to him he recited the optical delusion of his sister. The physician listened attentively, and seemed sanguine in his hopes of cure. He came to the house two hours before the one so dreaded by the patient. He had quietly arranged that the clocks should be put forward half an hour, unknown to Adela, and even to her brother. He was a man of the most extraordinary powers of conversation, of surpassing wit, of all the faculties that interest and amuse. He first administered to the patient a harmless potion, which he pledged himself would dispel the delusion. His confident tone woke her own hopes,—he continued to excite her attention, to rouse her lethargy; he jested, he laughed away the time. The hour struck. “Joy, my brother!” she exclaimed, throwing herself in his arms; “the time is past!” And then, like one released from a spell, she suddenly assumed more than her ancient cheerfulness. “Ah, Clarence!” she whispered, “forgive me for my former desertion,—forgive me that I feared you. I shall live!—I shall live! in my turn to banish the spectre that haunts my brother!” And Clarence smiled and wiped the tears from his burning eyes. The physician renewed his stories, his jests. In the midst of a stream of rich humour that seemed to carry away both brother and sister, Glyndon suddenly saw over Adela’s face the same fearful change, the same anxious look, the same restless, straining eye, he had beheld the night before. He rose,—he approached her. Adela started up, “look—look—look!” she exclaimed. “She comes! Save me,—save me!” and she fell at his feet in strong convulsions as the clock, falsely and in vain put forward, struck the half-hour.